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Conceptualizing smart city

The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
Conceptualizing Smart City with Dimensions of
Technology, People, and Institutions
Taewoo Nam & Theresa A. Pardo
Center for Technology in Government
University at Albany, State University of New York, U.S.
challenges. Some cities are identified to successfully operate in a
smarter way to solve concerns. Recent practices to make cities
better for living have become successful cases for new city
development strategies. We need to learn from the successfully
progressive practices of the cities listed below or more.
This conceptual paper discusses how we can consider a particular
city as a smart one, drawing on recent practices to make cities
smart. A set of the common multidimensional components
underlying the smart city concept and the core factors for a
successful smart city initiative is identified by exploring current
working definitions of smart city and a diversity of various
conceptual relatives similar to smart city. The paper offers
strategic principles aligning to the three main dimensions
(technology, people, and institutions) of smart city: integration of
infrastructures and technology-mediated services, social learning
for strengthening human infrastructure, and governance for
institutional improvement and citizen engagement.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.4.2 [Information Systems Applications]:
Type of systems – e-government applications
General Terms
Management, Performance, Human Factors, Standardization,
Smart city, Smart technology, Service integration, Infrastructure
integration, Governance
The city, as a government unit, is growing increasingly larger,
more complex and more important as the population ranks of
urban areas swell with ever increasing speed. According to the
United Nations Population Fund (see www.unfpa.org), 2008
marked the year when more than 50 percent of all people, 3.3
billion, lived in urban areas. By 2030 this number is expected to
increase to 5 billion. With the rapid increase of the urban
population worldwide, cities face a variety of risks, concerns, and
problems; for example, physical risks such as deteriorating
conditions in air and transportation, and economic risks such as
unemployment. The unprecedented rate of urban growth creates
an urgency to finding smarter ways to manage the accompanying
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Dg.o’11, June 12–15, 2011, College Park, MD, USA.
Copyright 2011 ACM 978-1-4503-0762-8/11/06…$10.00.
Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) annually announces cities
awarded as Smart21 Communities, which earns high score in
terms of five successful factors to be an intelligent community
The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
conceptual relatives. Section 3 derives prerequisites or central
components of smart city from the recent literature. Section 4
discusses what strategic principles contribute to the success of
smart city initiatives. The last section addresses concluding
(i.e., broadband connectivity, knowledge workforce, digital
inclusion, innovation, and marketing and advocacy). Table 1
describes the cumulative list of cities (in an alphabetical order)
awarded by ICF from 2007 to 2011. Practices in the cities listed
up deserve attention. Quebec City in Canada was a city highly
dependent upon its provincial government because of its weak
industrial base until early 1990s. The city government kicked off a
public-private partnership to support the growing multimedia
sector and high-tech entrepreneurship. For sustainable urban
growth, the City of Riverside in California is improving traffic
flow and replacing aging water, sewer and electric infrastructure
by tech-based transformation. Estonia overcame post-Soviet
economic ruin, and its capital city Tallinn played as a center to
communication technologies (ICTs). The city developed a largescale digital skills training program, extensive e-government, and
an award-winning smart ID card. By fostering high-tech parks,
Tallinn gains about 80 percent of Estonia’s foreign direct
investment. Taoyuan County in Taiwan is home to the
international airport. It faced powerful competition from other
cities. The Aerotropolis initiative makes its economy more robust
and improve the quality of living through ICTs. A series of the
county government’s projects has evolved from E-Taoyuan to MTaoyuan to U-Taoyuan.
The definitions of smart city are various. As the concept is being
known popularly but used all over the world with different names
and in different circumstances, there are a range of conceptual
variants generated by replacing smart with other alternative
adjectives. Hollands [41] recognized smart city as an “urban
labeling” phenomenon, particularly in terms of what the label
ideologically reveals as well as hides. The label smart city is a
fuzzy concept and is used in ways that are not always
consistent. There is neither a single template of framing smart city
nor a one-size-fits-all definition of smart city. This section seeks
to dismantle “the diversifying terrain of smart cities” [12].
2.1 The Meanings of “Smart” in the Smart
City Context
Tracing the genealogy of the word smart in the label smart city
can contribute to an understanding of how the term smart is being
loaded. In marketing language, smartness is centered on a user
perspective [50]. Because of the need for appeal to a broader base
of community members, smart serves better than the more elitist
term intelligent. Smart is more user-friendly than intelligent,
which is limited to having a quick mind and being responsive to
feedback. Smart city is required to adapt itself to the user needs
and to provide customized interfaces [62].
A common fact underlies the practices: that is, those cities are
meeting a growing demand for more livable cities. The cities are
being labeled with a common phrase: smart city. The concept of
smart city is not novel, but in the recent years it has taken on a
new dimension of using ICTs to build and integrate critical
infrastructures and services of a city. The initiatives of making a
city smart have recently emerged as a model to mitigate and
remedy current urban problems and make cities better as places to
live. Hence some view smart city as an icon of a sustainably
livable city. Yet, so far we see academics have seldom tackled the
practical concept. Considering that, we take an analytic look at the
conceptual identity of smart city.
In the urban planning field, the smartness in smart growth is
treated as a normative claim and ideological dimension. Being
smarter entails strategic directions. Governments and public
agencies at all levels are embracing the notion of smartness to
distinguish their new policies, strategies, and programs for
targeting sustainable development, sound economic growth, and
better quality of life for their citizens [19]. They associate smart
with achieving policy success in their jurisdictions.
We see commentators confused between visions and basic
components of smart city. While a majority of discussions present
rosy visions and ideal images of smart city (e.g., smart
transportation, smart mobility, smart environment, smart energy,
smart safety, and so on), little research has tackled enabling
factors of a smart city initiative (what really makes cities smart).
Concepts and success factors of smart city have not been
discussed with a comprehensive understanding. The discussion of
smart city has been made without solid conceptualization.
The smartness in smart technologies also merits attention. The
technologies had permeated into the commercial application of
intelligent-acting products and services, artificial intelligence, and
thinking machines [51,66]. Smartness in the technology context
implies the automatic computing principle like self-configuration,
self-healing, self-protection, and self-optimization [75]. Smart
homes, smart buildings, and larger smart ensembles like airports,
hospitals or university campuses are equipped with a multitude of
mobile terminals and embedded devices as well as connected
sensors and actuators [50]. Smart ecosystem is a conceptual
extension of smart space from the personal context to the larger
community and the entire city [88].
In this sense, we recognize a research gap in the current literature
of smart city. Considering the gap, we raise various conceptual
questions. What are main characteristics of smart city? In what
aspects do people label some particular cities as smart city? Why
is smart city being recognized as a novel concept, making
distinction from other similar ones? What leads to the success of a
smart city initiative? This paper seeks to answer these inquiries,
fill the research gap, and conceptualize smart city for both
academics’ and practitioners’ use of that concept.
2.2 Working Definitions of Smart City
Table 1 presents working definitions of smart city. Washburn et
al. [80] conceptualizes smart city by laying an explicit emphasis
on the use of smart computing technologies. They viewed current
urban crises as an imperative of a smart city initiative.
Deteriorating conditions of cities in a crisis include scarcity of
resources, inadequate and poor infrastructure, energy shortages
and price instability, global environmental concerns, and human
health concerns. Giffinger et al. [35] highlighted the performance
of smart city in economy, people, governance, mobility,
This paper aims to suggest a framework connecting conceptual
variants of the smart city label, key elements for being a smart
city, and strategic principles for making a city smart. The paper
after this introduction is organized into five sections. Section 2
defines smart city by specifying the meanings of smartness in the
urban context, exploring current definitions of smart city, and
understanding smart city as a broad concept comprising its
The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
environment, and living. The Smarter Cities project of the Natural
Resources Defense Council (see http://smartercities.nrda.org)
conceptualizes smart city by highlighting positive outcomes made
by being smarter.
The smart city concept has been expressed with some metaphors.
Importantly, smart city has been viewed as a large organic system.
Dirks and Keeling [23] stress the organic integration of systems.
The interrelationship between a smart city’s core systems is taken
into account to make the system of systems smarter. No system
operates in isolation. A smarter city infuses information into its
physical infrastructure to improve conveniences, facilitate
mobility, add efficiencies, conserve energy, improve the quality of
air and water, identify problems and fix them quickly, recover
rapidly from disasters, collect data to make better decisions,
deploy resources effectively, and share data to enable
collaboration across entities and domains. However, infusing
intelligence into each subsystem of a city, one by one––
transportation, energy, education, health care, buildings, physical
infrastructure, food, water, public safety, etc.—is not enough to
become a smarter city. A smarter city should be treated as an
organic whole––as a network, as a linked system [49].
Some definitions stress technologies. The key part of R. Hall’s
[39] definition is “city that monitors and integrates conditions of
all of its critical infrastructures.” One of core mechanisms in smart
city is a self-monitoring and self-response system. IBM’s view of
smart city envisions its three main characteristics: instrumented,
interconnected, and intelligent [40]. Instrumentation means
sourcing of real-time real-world data from both physical and
virtual sensors. Such data may be interconnected across multiple
processes, systems, organizations, industries, or value chains. The
combination of instrumented and interconnected systems
effectively connects the physical world to the virtual world.
Other definitions highlight different aspects. Rios’s [73] approach
is based on an architectural lens. He sees smart city as a city that
gives inspiration, shares culture, knowledge, and life, and
motivates its inhabitants to create and flourish in their own lives.
Partridge’s [69] observation of Brisbane in Australia sheds light
on social inclusion and equal participation as enhanced
opportunities created by smart city initiatives.
While systems in industrial cities were mostly skeleton and skin,
postindustrial cities are like organisms that develop an artificial
nervous system, which enables them to behave in intelligently
coordinated ways [65]. The new intelligence of cities, then,
resides in the increasingly effective combination of digital
telecommunication networks (the nerves), ubiquitously embedded
intelligence (the brains), sensors and tags (the sensory organs),
and software (the knowledge and cognitive competence). There is
a growing web of direct connections to the mechanical and
electrical systems of buildings, household appliances, production
machinery, process plants, transportation systems, electrical grids
and other energy supply networks, water supply and waste
removal networks, systems that provide life safety and security,
and management systems for just about every imaginable human
2.3 Conceptual Relatives
To build the set of common multidimensional components we
need to take a close look at many conceptual cousins of smart city
and trace the roots of the terms popularly used. A variety of the
labels can be largely categorized into three dimensions:
technology, people, and community. The conceptual variants are
mutually connected with substantial confusion in definitions and
complicated usages rather than independent on each other.
The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
ubiquitous city is quite different from the well-known virtual city.
While the virtual city reproduces urban elements by visualizing
them within the virtual space, ubiquitous city is created by the
computer chips or sensors inserted to those urban elements.
2.3.1 Technology Dimension
There are various cousins of the smart city concept that draws
from a technology perspective. A digital city refers to “a
connected community that combines broadband communications
infrastructure based on open industry standards; and, innovative
services to meet the needs of governments and their employees,
citizens and businesses” [88]. Its goal is to create an environment
for information sharing, collaboration, interoperability and
seamless experiences for all inhabitants anywhere in the city.
Williams [82] views it as a sharing of networks. Through digital
technologies and wide-area infrastructures/applications, those
networks connect organizations, social groups and enterprises
located in a city area [5,6]. For example, Widmayer [81] viewed
Chicago as a digital metropolis consisting of large networks.
An information city refers to digital environments collecting
information from local communities and delivering it to the public
via web portals [5,74,76,81]. In that city, many info-habitants are
able to live and work on the Internet. An information city is an
urban center for commerce, social and civic services, and social
interactions among people, businesses and government
institutions [74,76].
2.3.2 Human Dimension
Creativity is recognized as a key driver to smart city, and thus
people, education, learning and knowledge have central
importance to smart city. The expansive notion of smart city
includes creating a climate suitable for an emerging creative class
[12]. A creative city is one of smart city visions. Human
infrastructure (i.e., creative occupations and workforce,
knowledge networks, voluntary organizations, crime-free
environments, after-dark entertainment economy) is a crucial axis
for city development [31].
The notion of an intelligent city emerges at the crossing of the
knowledge society (a society in which knowledge and creativity
have great emphasis and intangible, human and social capital are
considered the most valuable asset) with the digital city [66].
Malek [61] defined an intelligent city as a city that has all the
infrastructure and infostructure of information technology, the
latest technology in telecommunications, electronic and
mechanical technology. According to Komninos and Sefertzi [54],
initiatives for intelligent cities make conscious efforts to use
information technology to transform life and work within its
region in significant and fundamental rather than incremental
Social infrastructure (intellectual capital and social capital) is
indispensable endowment to smart cities. That infrastructure is
about people and their relationship. Smart people generate and
benefit from social capital. Smart city is about a mix of
education/training, culture/arts, and business/commerce [7] and a
hybrid mix of social enterprise, cultural enterprise, and economic
There is a conceptual and practical distinction between digital city
and intelligent city. The label intelligent city is usually used to
characterize a city that has the ability to support learning,
technological development, and innovation procedures. In this
sense, every digital city is not necessarily intelligent, but every
intelligent city has digital components. Both terms are different in
the linkage between real city and virtual city. Digital city involves
every function of the city such as work, housing, movement,
recreation, and environment. Intelligent city primarily involves
functions of research, technology transfer, product development,
and technological innovation, as a hotbed of innovative industries
[54], analogous to knowledge city.
A smart city is a humane city that has multiple opportunities to
exploit its human potential and lead a creative life. Focusing on
education, Winters [83] analyzed why smart cities are growing,
who moves, and who stays. In his view, a smart city is a center of
higher education and better-educated individuals. Similarly, a
smart city is full of skilled workforces [37]. The knowledge
worker and the high tech knowledge-sensitive industries migrate
into highly livable communities [28]. The smartness of workforce
diverges between cities. Smart places are getting smarter while
other places getting less smarter because such places act as a
magnet for creative people and workers [60]. Along with the
inflow of smart people, new creative culture driven by them is a
drive to urban development. Švob-Ðokiæ [78] lauded the
outcome of creative culture that extends beyond diversity and
creativity to economic performance and social tolerance.
In a virtual city, city functions are implemented in a cyberspace
[12]. Given the experiential blurring between cyberspace and
material space [89], the category of the smart city concept
comprises the notion of a hybrid city [77], which consists of a
reality with its physical entities and real inhabitants and a parallel
virtual city of counterparts of real entities and people. Today some
cities are experienced as and constituted within virtual and
material spaces simultaneously. However, physical distance and
location still have importance for consideration [12,63].
Hyperbolic claims that distance will be dead soon belie an
important paradox in cyberspace research. The vision of the world
without distance still remains unmet in many ways. In practice,
ubiquitous cloud of communication is underpinned and enabled
by a vast, physical (placed) IT infrastructure of cables, data
centers, and exchanges. Place still matters, though virtualization
in many cities is accelerating.
A smart city is also a learning city, which improves the
competitiveness of urban contexts in the global knowledge
economy [71]. Learning cities are actively involved in building a
skilled information economy workforce [66]. Campbell [16]
established a typology of cities that are learning to be smart:
individually proactive city, city cluster, one-to-one link between
cities, and city network.
A knowledge city is analogous to a learning city. It refers to “a
city that was purposefully designed to encourage the nurturing of
knowledge” [26]. Technopolis and ideapolis, early articulations of
a knowledge city, have evolved into digital, intelligent
or smart city
[85]. The
knowledge city
interchangeable to a certain degree with similar evolving concepts
such as intelligent city, educating city, or smart city [25,52].
However, a knowledge city is heavily related to knowledge
economy, and its distinction is stress on innovation [22].
Knowledge-based urban development has become an important
A ubiquitous city (U-city) is a further extension of digital city
concept in terms of ubiquitous accessibility and infrastructure
[4,5]. It makes the ubiquitous computing available to the urban
elements such as people, building, infrastructure and open space
[56]. Its aim is to create a built environment where any citizen can
get any services anywhere and anytime through any devices. The
The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
mechanism for the development of knowledge cities. The buzz
concept of being clever, smart, skillful, creative, networked,
connected, and competitive has become some of the key
ingredients of knowledge-based urban development [84-7].
Technology Factors
Digital city
Intelligent city
Ubiquitous city
Wired city
Hybrid city
Information City
2.3.3 Institutional Dimension
The Smart Communities movement took shape over the 1990s as
a strategy to broaden the base of users involved in IT [66]. A
smart community should be defined as a community broadly
ranging from a small neighborhood to a nation-wide community
of common or shared interest, whose members, organizations and
governing institutions are working in partnership to use IT to
transform their circumstances in significant ways [43]. The
concept highlights governance among stakeholders and
institutional factors for governance. California Institute for Smart
Communities [15] elaborated the concept: “a community in which
government, business, and residents understand the potential of
information technology, and make a conscious decision to use that
technology to transform life and work in their region in significant
and positive ways.” With a holistic view, a smarter community is
composed of not only a more integrated, collaborative, and
inclusive “whole” but also of multiple neighborhoods and
communities of interest and of kind [49,58]. A smart community
makes a conscious and agreed-upon decision to deploy
technology as a catalyst to solving its social and business needs
[28,29]. Technological propagation is not an end in itself, but
only a means to reinventing cities for a new economy and society.
Institutional preparation and community governance are essential
to the success of smart community initiatives.
Smart community
Smart growth
Institutional Factors
Regulations / directives
Physical infrastructure
Smart technologies
Mobile technologies
Virtual technologies
Digital networks
Creative city
Learning city
Humane city
Knowledge city
Human Factors
Human infrastructure
Social capital
3.1 Technology Factors
Technology is key to being a smart city because of the use of ICT
to transform life and work within a city in significant and
fundamental ways [41]. A well-functioning infrastructure is
absolutely necessary but not enough to become a smart city. IT
infrastructure and applications are prerequisites, but without real
engagement and willingness to collaborate and cooperate between
public institutions, private sector, voluntary organizations, schools
and citizens there is no smart city [58].
Building and planning a smart community seeks for smart growth
[66]. Smart growth was the most use of the term smart in the
urban context before the concept of smart city emerges [79]. The
smart growth movement had prevailed during the 1990s, as a
strong government- and community-driven reaction to worsening
trends in traffic congestion, school overcrowding, air pollution,
loss of open space, effacement of valued historic places, and
skyrocketing public facilities cost [34,45,72]. Smart city
resembles some functions of smart growth initiatives as an urban
problem solver within or beyond the physical jurisdiction of a
community. However, the smart growth concept primarily covers
urban growth as the alternative or antidote to spatial sprawl
[9,67]. The general implication from smart growth is that the illplanned, ill-coordinated development provoked the smart growth
movement [8]. As urban planning based on governance with
multiple stakeholders is pivotal to smart growth, smart city
initiatives necessitate governance for their success.
Most studies on practices of smart city address issues of
technological infrastructure and enabling technologies. The focus
on infrastructure and technology stresses accessibility and
availability of systems [35,36]. Contrasting with human
infrastructure, technological infrastructures have other names such
as physical infrastructure [12] and technoware [61]. Washburn et
al. [80] views smart city as a collection of smart computing
technologies applied to critical infrastructure components and
services. Smart computing refers to “a new generation of
integrated hardware, software, and network technologies that
provide IT systems with real-time awareness of the real world and
advanced analytics to help people make more intelligent decisions
about alternatives and actions that will optimize business
processes and business balance sheet results” [80]. Al-Hader et al.
[1,2] specifies technological components with the framework of
smart city development pyramid: smart interface (dash board,
common operational platform, integrated web services), smart
control systems (automatic control network, local operating
network), and smart database resources (database, database
This section discusses a set of fundamental factors which make a
city smart according to the literature. From the discussion of
conceptual variants of smart city in the preceding section, we
identify and clarify key conceptual components of smart city, and
re-categorize and simplify them into three categories of core
factors: technology (infrastructures of hardware and software),
people (creativity, diversity, and education), and institution
(governance and policy). Given the connection between the
factors, a city is smart when investments in human/social capital
and IT infrastructure fuel sustainable growth and enhance a
quality of life, through participatory governance [17].
Mobile, virtual, and ubiquitous technologies gain importance.
Those technologies offer benefits to city dwellers in mobile
lifestyle. Smart city application evolves from smart places to
networked inhabitants [32]. While the wireless infrastructure is a
key element of digital city infrastructure, it is only a first step
[1,2]. A set of technological requisites for smart city comprises
The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
engagement) supportive for smart city [86]. To enable smart city
initiatives, the category should also include integrated and
transparent governance, strategic and promotional activities,
networking, and partnerships [68].
network equipments (fiber optic channels and wi-fi networks),
public access points (wireless hotpots, kiosks), and serviceoriented information systems [5]. A ubiquitous/pervasive
computing infrastructure is a key technological component in the
build out of a digital city [88]. A smart city provides
interoperable, Internet-based government services that enable
ubiquitous connectivity to transform key government processes,
both internally across departments and employees and externally
to citizens and businesses.
IBM [42] presented smart government as one key component for
smart city. Smarter government will do more than simply regulate
the outputs of economic and societal systems. It interconnects
dynamically with citizens, communities, and businesses in real
time to spark growth, innovation, and progress. The challenges
vary from departmental silos to process delays to the lack of
transparency and accountability. Smarter government means
collaborating across departments and with communities––to
become more transparent and accountable, to manage resources
more effectively, and to give citizens access to information about
decisions that affect their lives. Leading governments are
integrating their service delivery, establishing offices that support
multiple services, and placing the most needed transactions on the
Web. At the most fundamental level, smarter government means
making operations and services truly citizen-centric.
3.2 Human Factors
The availability and quality of the IT infrastructure is not the only
definition of smart city [17]. Importantly, other definitions stress
the role of human infrastructure, human capital and education in
urban development [12]. For urban development, Florida [31]
suggested 3T (tolerance, technology, and talent), of which two are
germane to people and their relationship. Smart people is an
important component of smart city [35,36]. The smart people
concept comprises various factors like affinity to life long
learning, social and ethnic plurality, flexibility, creativity,
cosmopolitanism or open-mindedness, and participation in public
life. Problems associated with urban agglomerations can be solved
by means of creativity, human capital, cooperation among relevant
stakeholders, and their bright scientific ideas: in a nutshell, “smart
solutions” [17]. The label smart city therefore points to clever
solutions by creative people.
The transformation to smart city entails interactions of
technological components with political, institutional and
transitional components [64]. Political components represent
endogenous political elements (directions, city council, city
government, city mayor), harmonized by exogenous ones
(international pressures, agenda, projects, strategies in prevalence)
and verified by best practices. Institutional components are
prerequisites as well. Institutional readiness such as removing
legal and regulatory barriers is important. Transitional
components comprise visions, leadership, and organizational
transition in structure.
The category of human factors highlights creativity, social
learning, and education. Smart city is a center of higher education
and smart workforce [37,83]. For smart city, Malek [61]
emphasizes the importance of humanware, which represents
cognitive/creative capability and human skills. Smart city bolsters
a creative environment [86]. The category of human factors also
includes social inclusion of various urban residents in public
services, soft infrastructure (knowledge networks, voluntary
organizations, crime-free environments), urban diversity and
cultural mix, social/human/relational capital, and knowledge base
such as educational institutions and R&D capacities [41,85].
As a cornerstone of smart city, smart governance means various
stakeholders’ (especially citizens’) engagement in decisionmaking and public/social services [36,37]. IT-mediated
governance, so called e-governance, is key to enabling smart city
by bringing citizens to a smart city initiative and keeping the
decision and implementation process transparent [70]. The central
spirit of governance is a citizen-centric, citizen-driven approach.
The consideration of stakeholders (i.e., end-users, groups of endusers, IT experts, policy/service domain experts, and public
managers) is fundamental to architecture of smart city [5,57].
Successful initiatives are the result by a coalition of business,
education, government and individual citizens [58]. A successful
smart city can be built from top down or bottom up approaches,
but active involvement from every sector of the community is
essential. United efforts create synergy, which allows individual
projects to build upon each other for faster progress, resulting in
the involved, informed and trained critical mass necessary for
transformation of how the entire community carries out its work.
Education is a critical magnet that makes a city attractive.
Businesses, organizations, and individuals of all backgrounds
gravitate to dynamic learning environments [10]. IT education
enabled the vision of Singapore as an intelligent island [59].
Collective intelligence and social learning make a city smarter
[20]. The notion of smart community refers to the locus in which
networked intelligence is embedded and continuous learning is
nurtured. To explain functioning mechanisms of smart
community, the hidden portion of the iceberg is collective
intelligence and social learning [20]. A smart city initiative
becomes an integrated approach to connecting among entire
communities (governments, businesses, schools, non-profits, and
individual citizens), creating specific services to address city
objectives, and advancing collective skills and capacities.
This section offers strategic principles for making a city smart in
order to realize the various visions specified for diverse policy
domains, aligning to the three categories of core components
identified in the preceding section.
3.3 Institutional Factors
The support of government and policy for governance is
fundamental to the design and implementation of smart city
initiatives. This category comprises a variety of institutional
factors drawing from the discussion of smart community or smart
growth initiatives: not just supportive policies but also the role of
government, the relationship between government agencies and
non-government parties, and their governance. It is necessary to
establish administrative environment (initiatives, structure, and
4.1 Integration of Technology Factors
A solution to make a city smarter introduces a new level of
complexity [48]. The solution should extend beyond technology,
but we should still value the indispensable role of technology.
Smart city integrates technologies, systems, infrastructures,
The Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research
of leadership is pivotal both within government and for its relation
with citizens.
services, and capabilities into an organic network that is
sufficiently complex for unexpected emergent properties to
develop. Integrative service of smart city faces challenges as well
as opportunities. The perception of technology in smart city
initiatives stresses integration of systems, infrastructures and
services mediated through enabling technologies. Technological
innovation is a means to smart city, not an ends. IT is just a
facilitator for creating a new type of innovative environment,
which requires the comprehensive and balanced development of
creative skills, innovation-oriented institutions, broadband
networks, and virtual collaborative spaces [53].
We expect that the elaborated conceptualization of smart city in
this paper will contribute to future studies. As we explored
multiple conceptual dimensions of smart city, the concept is an
organic connection among technological, human, and institutional
components. Nowadays the usage of “smart” captures innovative
and transformative changes driven by new technologies. However,
social factors other than smart technologies are central to smart
cities. In this sense, a socio-technical view on smart city is
needed. Leading a smart city initiative requires a comprehensive
understanding of the complexities and interconnections among
social and technical factors of services and physical environments
in a city. For future research based on a socio-technical view, we
must explore both “how do smart technologies change a city?”
and “how do traditional institutional and human factors in urban
dynamics impact a smart city initiative leveraged by new
technologies?”. This research will also explore the practical
implications of the conceptual model suggested. To that end, we
will continue studying smart city by focusing on exemplar
practices of smart city initiatives, considering the dynamics of
various stakeholders in those initiatives, and discussing policy
innovation in city governments.
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